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Defeat for DA in its cadre deployment application


While the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria has turned down the DA’s application to overturn the ANC’s cadre deployment policy, this is far from the end of the matter.

The DA federal leader, John Steenhuisen, and the DA’s spokesperson for Public Service and Administration, Leon Schreiber, address the media after the High Court in Pretoria delivered its ruling on cadre deployment. Picture: Oupa Mokoena, Independent Newspapers

WHILE the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria has turned down the DA’s application to overturn the ANC’s cadre deployment policy, this is far from the end of the matter.

On Wednesday, shortly after the party’s legal defeat, DA leader John Steenhuisen vowed that the DA would appeal the matter before the Supreme Court of Appeal and take the issue to the Constitutional Court.

Speaking to the media shortly after Deputy Judge Aubrey Ledwaba read out the order in court, Steenhuisen said that while the party respected the court’s judgment, there were several errors in the full court’s (three judges) judgment.

In a concurring judgment, the court found that “the DA came to court with a case built on speculation and conjecture”.

“Corruption knows no boundaries. It inflicts great harm on society. For that reason it ought not to be used by political parties to pursue political objectives,” the court said in slapping the DA with the ANC’s legal costs in the application. It includes the costs of five counsel.

The court said the question was whether in launching the proceedings, the DA sought to vindicate a constitutional right. “The answer is no,” the court said.

The DA had asked the court to declare the ANC’s cadre deployment policy inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid.

Steenhuisen said in an affidavit filed to substantiate the application that the evidence that the DA relied on, largely emanated from the state capture commission.

He said the ANC’s cadre deployment policy was to permit it to influence which individuals were appointed to and employed by important state institutions.

In doing so, the DA said, the policy ensured that all levels of state power were controlled by those who were loyal to the ANC.

It argued that the effect was that the ANC, rather than the state, had control over the functioning of critical institutions of the government.

“Loyalty to the ANC is prized above merit, competence and ability and is a precondition for appointments to key institutions in the state,” Steenhuisen said.

He added that the evidence at the state capture commission demonstrated that the ANC’s cadre deployment policy had incapacitated important state institutions, blurred the lines between the ANC and the state and facilitated state capture and poor service delivery.

“The policy has had a profound effect on the rights of every South African. It has resulted in breaches of several human rights and has inhibited the ability of the state to function effectively in order to promote the Bill of Rights.”

The DA said it was impermissible for the ANC or any other political party to influence appointments to the public service.

The ANC argued that there was nothing impermissible in that regard and that deployment by senior personnel by political parties to the public administration was not unique to South Africa; it was practised in many countries across the world.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his opposition to the application, referred the court to a study which found that political involvement in public administration was essential for the proper functioning of democracy.

The study found that more political influence in staff might work well if there were checks and balances.

“It follows that there is nothing unconstitutional about a political party influencing the policy direction of a government, including the appointment of senior personnel to public service, as long as the public service is protected against misused for partisan purposes,” the court said.

This week, the ANC handed the DA the cadre deployment records from the ANC following the Constitutional Court order.

DA spokesperson for public service and administration Dr Leon Schreiber, who was also present in court, said the DA would make the documents public once it had sorted them out.

Steenhuisen said the documents would be added as annexes to further appeal the proceedings following the ruling against the DA.

Shortly after the judgment, national ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said the DA’s application was legally unsound and hypocritical.

“Cadre deployment cannot be faulted in principle and it is a common feature of democratic practice around the world,” she said.

The ANC said it applauded the court’s decision.

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